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Thread: Schools in NZ vs schools in UK

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    United Kingdom

    Default Schools in NZ vs schools in UK


    We are planning our big shift to NZ in Sept this year and although I am originally a kiwi I haven't lived there for 22 years and am well out of date with the current education system.

    We have 2 daughters - one in current year 5 here (about to turn 10 yrs old) and the other in year 8 (about to turn 13 yrs old).

    I have looked at various websites on education until my eyes are bleeding .....and we are looking to either move to Howick area or Mairangi Bay area as the schools look so good there (plus we like the look of those areas)....but still have questions.

    Does anyone have any experience of how children educated in the UK get on with where they fit into the NZ system on arrival? As our school terms don't coincide the girls will have to repeat a term or so when they get there and I have no problem with that - I guess my question is will their education here match the same level in NZ? or will they be ahead or behind of their age group?

    Does anyone have any clue about the NZCEA system vs Cambridge system and experience of preferences when it comes to qualifications?

    Would really appreciate any feedback. :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008



    The school systems in the two countries are different. Even when the same subjects are studied, and even if the same topics within the subject are on the list to be covered, it is often the case that they won't be tackled by the same methods or in the same order - not even within the programme for the same school year, in NZ and the UK. Your children may have already done some work, and also, not have touched other things.

    NZ schools accepting immigrant children are very accustomed to assessing each one as an individual, and supporting them while they find their feet. Schools are mainly pretty flexible about ignoring chronological age to some extent when deciding on the best school year to place them in.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Essex, UK


    As JandM points out, they may not learn the same things at the same time, so it'll be difficult to decide whether they are 'ahead' or 'behind'.

    My sons had just finished Year 2 in the UK when we moved here, and I was quite worried that they would be behind (not the highest achieving primary school in the UK...), but they were absolutely fine. If anything, they were ahead when it came to the basics. They did not repeat anything but went into Year 3 (for 6 weeks before the summer holidays) and then into Year 4. In effect, they didn't really have a proper Year 3

    I haven't found primary school here to be terribly academic, so wouldn't worry about that aspect at all.

    As far as NCEA vs Cambridge goes, I don't have any experience just yet. My sons start a secondary school that offers both, but as that won't really be relevant till Year 11, I haven't spent much time thinking about it yet.

    To confuse matters further, you could also do an IB, so you three potential qualifications to chose from...

    Good luck,


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    new zealand


    since you mention howick may be worth looking at bucklands beach if u do decided u want cambridge mcleans college offer bot ncea and cambridge - google them their website tells about both and has the subject 'option' lists n stuff. carey college in panmure lso offers cambridge and has a lot of info on the website about the cirriculum works (its a christian fee paying school). from my research most of the IB schools are on the north shore. i have friends with older kids (mine are long way off yet) one with none acdemic sort but the others are much more academically inclined and so they chose to live in zone for mcleans so kids can choose cambridge if want with view they might want to go back home (the netherlands) and qualifications would be better recongised

  5. #5


    I moved to NZ after doing half a term of Year 7 in the UK (moved to NZ in November). Could have done the last few weeks of primary school in NZ but got advised it would be like doing a GIANT step back. Year 7 in the UK = big school, lots of teachers, lots of new students to mingle with. So going back to primary school would have been a shock.

    I ended up having that shock going into Year 7 at Intermediate school. One classroom teacher for the core subjects, reading books under the tree, teacher not really knowing how to do maths..... Because I'm a July baby, I shouldn't have really had the option to skip Year 7 and go into Year 8. I had the option because I was ahead of the other students in my class. But because by the time this all came into discussion, it was too late to skip (would have missed a term of Year 8!), I stayed in Year 7.

    So it depends on when your children's birthdays are. If they are born February-June then maybe they can skip a year if everything is easy and they are mature enough to handle it.

    But to be honest, your older child will probably end up finishing Year 8 in the UK in September and then doing a term or two of Year 8 in NZ at Intermediate school. They will then go on with their new friends to college/high school in January/February 2014. The other option would be only doing 2 terms of Year 9 in NZ (2013) and then going into Year 10 in 2014.....

    Can't really give you much advice regarding your younger child.

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